The United States Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case involving allegedly defective Xbox 360 gaming systems manufactured by Microsoft. The lawsuit was filed in 2011 on behalf of Xbox 360 owners who alleged that the gaming systems were defectively designed with the result that even small vibrations could cause the system’s disc drive to damage users’ expensive game discs. The plaintiffs were originally denied class certification and sought to immediately appeal that decision before the end of the case, but Microsoft has argued that allowing plaintiffs to make an immediate appeal is unfair. How the Supreme Court rules on this case could have massive implications for how class actions are litigated in the 9th Circuit, which includes California.
Why Preserving Consumers’ Rights to Appeal is Important
A Seattle federal judge had ruled in 2012 that the Xbox 360 consumers that had made up the proposed class could not be certified as a class, in part because less than one percent of users had reported the disc damage. The plaintiffs then sought to appeal this ruling on class certification, and the Ninth Circuit granted the plaintiffs this right to do so, but the Supreme Court is now taking up the question of whether the plaintiffs needed to reach a final verdict in the case before they could appeal.
Regardless of the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the Xbox systems, their arguments regarding the right to appeal class certification decisions immediately are compelling. The primary reason that state and federal laws created the procedures to bring class actions is to protect plaintiffs whose individual damages would not be economical to pursue unless they were aggregated together with similarly affected plaintiffs. For example, if you suffer $200 in damages, and 1,000,000 other people do as well, then you probably do not have the economic incentive to pursue your $200 in damages through a lawsuit on your own. But if you are able to join forces with the other million consumers, then affected consumers can work together to leverage their collective strength against a powerful defendant like a Microsoft.
By not allowing plaintiffs to have the right to immediately appeal a district court judge’s ruling on class certification, it can make pursuing economic justice extremely difficult and may present an insurmountable obstacle to consumers’ obtaining justice while only enriching powerful defendants who are able to evade liability for their defective products or negligent actions.
Experienced Class Action Attorneys in the Inland Empire
At McCune Wright Arevalo, our class action attorneys have repeatedly won verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients across the state of California and beyond in the millions of dollars, including a $203 million class-action verdict against Wells Fargo. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced class action attorneys to discuss filing or joining a class action lawsuit.